Top Gun: Maverick will no doubt be the highest grossing movie of 2022, with $1.38 billion worldwide box office earnings (without a China release, no less) thus far. Now, this phenomenal success caught everybody in the movie industry by surprise. After all, while Top Gun: Maverick is a sequel to a popular movie, that was 36 years ago! Would the sequel be able to resonate with modern day audiences? We all know the answer to that now but the questions remains – why did Top Gun: Marverick work?
S P O I L E R S
Top Gun: Maverick is a throwback to classic 80s movie-making, a format defined basically by George Lucas’ Star Wars trilogy. A simple plot where an uncomplicated protagonist struggles against seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve his (or her) objective. A storyline that emphasised universal themes without the current divisive trends of “inclusivity” and virtue signalling.
A simple plot
The premise does not get any more basic. Paul “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) – a naval aviator who never rose above the rank of captain due to his rebellious nature – is given one last dangerous mission to undertake. He returns to the Top Gun academy as a teacher to train a young group of fighter pilots to achieve this mission impossible (geddit?!) Of course, along the way, numerous obstacles are thrown his way, each one more difficult than the last till he gets what he really wants – to be mission leader!
Maverick has no layers – he is a fighter pilot, that is what he does – all he wants to do is fly. His uncompromising personality makes his unsuitable for his Navy but his talent (and the support of old friends – like former wingman now admiral Iceman) keeps him around. Underneath that veneer is a man seeking to redeem himself with the son of his former navigator (the deceased Goose), who coincidentally is also in line to fly in the deadly mission. Yes, there is a minor romance with old flame Penny (Jennifer Connelly) but that is an inconsequential distraction, in the scheme of things.
“Don’t think. Just do.”
If nothing else, the movie is about never giving up and an innate belief in oneself to overcome the odds to achieve one’s goals. The first two acts are pretty much shallow exercises in these concepts. However, it is in the third act, when the mission gets underway that Top Gun: Maverick truly switches gears to provide enthralling movie-making. Highly reminiscent of the third act of Star Wars, there are thrills and spills galore, dogfights that stretch incredulity and self-sacrifices that warm the heart. And of course, Maverick and his team win the day and all come home safe and sound.
The resolution of the movie is a feel-good extravaganza that spares no effort in putting lumps in throats and tears in eyes. Considering the dire couple of years the world has had to endure with the global pandemic, Top Gun: Maverick acts as a panacea to all the complication in the world – “Don’t think. Just do” becomes a mantra for our version of the Twenties. Surely, Hollywood will learn a lesson or two from this – get rid of all the political bullshit and return to storytelling basics as outlined above. THIS is how the movie industry succeeds again.
Now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
… still there’s more …